When she started experiencing new and unusual symptoms, Cate, who was in her early 20s, knew something wasn’t right.
“I was previously very fit and just could not extend myself. I could not get the breath I needed. My friend and I went out exercising – she was walking with the pram and the plan was I would run. She beat me because I had to keep stopping to catch my breath.”
On average a diagnosis of Pulmonary Hypertension can take almost 4 years. Fortunately for Cate, when she raised her symptoms with a GP, she was quickly sent for tests.
“I was a young sole parent at Uni when I was diagnosed. I couldn’t regain my pre-pregnancy fitness level and after fainting for the second time I thought best I get this checked out. Thankfully that process was quick. First time lucky.”
“When I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension I was lost, and very angry. I felt cheated. It took 10 years to come to deal with the fact I would never have more children.”
“I wasn’t given any information at all, just ‘this is what you have, you have a 50% chance of dying if you fall pregnant again, take these tablets, have regular blood tests and off you go.” It took many, many years before I had an understanding of PH.
“I now know If I push, or plan to push myself I need to plan around recovery. My feet need to be up as they swell if down. I can’t stand still because my feet swell, so need to walk and talk, or sit, NOT STAND AND TALK. The most challenging part is not being able to do what I want every day or being able to contribute more at work in the family business.
PAH isn’t a visible condition, so Cate says many people don’t understand the impact it has on her.
“Some people think I’m lazy or sometimes people, with good intentions, decide what I can or can’t do without asking me. I can make that decision myself. I want the dignity to make that decision myself. I like to walk which is my way of putting my middle finger up at PH and saying, ‘HAHA you haven’t got me yet!!!!’.” I want to watch my three grandchildren experience all of life’s excitements.”
Cate hopes sharing her story will help increase community awareness of lung diseases like Pulmonary Hypertension, and that increased recognition of lung disease as a disability will help improve access to government support for those diagnosed.
Share your story
Sharing your personal experience can help others to better understand their condition and cope with their diagnosis. It can also help encourage people to identify early signs and symptoms and get them checked.